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Field Guides & Natural History  Ornithology  Passerines

The Warbler Guide

Field / Identification Guide SPECIAL OFFER
By: Tom Stephenson(Author), Scott Whittle(Author), Catherine Hamilton(Illustrator)
560 pages, 1000+ colour photos, 50 colour distribution maps
The Warbler Guide
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  • Backlist Bargains The Warbler Guide ISBN: 9780691154824 Paperback Jul 2013 In stock
    £14.99 £24.99
Price: £14.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles Recommended titles
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About this book

Warblers are among the most challenging birds to identify. They exhibit an array of seasonal plumages and have distinctive yet oft-confused calls and songs.

The Warbler Guide enables you to quickly identify any of the 56 species of warblers in the United States and Canada. This groundbreaking guide features more than 1000 stunning color photos, extensive species accounts with multiple viewing angles, and an entirely new system of vocalization analysis that helps you effectively learn songs and calls. The Warbler Guide revolutionizes birdwatching, making warbler identification easier than ever before.

Please note that the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Macaulay Library, Princeton University Press, has released a downloadable Song and Call Companion to accompany the book, consisting of 1031 files of warbler calls, that can be purchased and downloaded from their website. Watch an introductory clip here:



How to Use This Book 6
Icons and Key Terms 8
How to Use the Maps 10
Topographic Tour 12
What to Notice on a Warbler 16
Aging and Sexing Warblers 56
Understanding Sonograms 62
How to Listen to Warbler Songs 68
Learning Chip and Flight Calls 90

Visual Finder Guides 100
Warbler Song Finder Charts 116
Chip Call Finder 130
Flight Call Finder 134

Species Accounts 138
American Redstart Male 138
American Redstart F/1yM 146
Audubon's Bright 476
Audubon's Drab 480
Bay-breasted Bright 150
Bay-breasted Drab 156
Black-and-white 160
Blackburnian Bright 166
Blackburnian Drab 172
Blackpoll Spring 176
Blackpoll Fall 182
Black-throated Blue Male 186
Black-throated Blue Female 192
Black-throated Gray 196
Black-throated Green 202
Blue-winged 208
Brewster's 214
Canada 216
Cape May Bright 222
Cape May Drab 228
Cerulean 232
Chestnut-sided Bright 238
Chestnut-sided Drab 244
Colima 248
Common Yellowthroat AdM 254
Common Yellowthroat F/1yM 260
Connecticut Bright 264
Connecticut Drab 270
Crescent-chested 498
Fan-tailed 500
Golden-cheeked 274
Golden-crowned 502
Golden-winged 280
Grace's 286
Gray-crowned Yellowthroat 504
Hermit 294
Hooded 300
Kentucky 306
Kirtland's 312
Lawrence's 214
Louisiana Waterthrush 318
Lucy's 324
MacGillivray's Bright 330
MacGillivray's Drab 336
Magnolia Bright 340
Magnolia Drab 346
Mourning Bright 350
Mourning Drab 356
Myrtle Bright 476
Myrtle Drab 480
Nashville 360
Northern Parula 366
Northern Waterthrush 372
Olive Warbler 522
Orange-crowned 378
Ovenbird 384
Painted Redstart 390
Palm 396
Pine 402
Prairie 410
Prothonotary 416
Red-faced 422
Rufous-capped 506
Slate-throated 508
Swainson's 428
Tennessee 434
Townsend's 440
Tropical Parula 510
Virginia's 446
Wilson's 452
Worm-eating 460
Yellow 466
Yellow-breasted Chat 520
Yellow-rumped Bright 476
Yellow-rumped Drab 480
Yellow-throated 492
Similar Non-warbler Species 512
Hybrid Warblers 524

Quiz and Review 526
Warblers in Flight 534
North American Warbler Taxonomy 540

Measurements 542
Silhouettes 544
Habitat and Behavior 546

Glossary 549
Resources 555
Acknowledgments 557
Photo Credits 558
Index 559

Customer Reviews


Tom Stephenson's articles and photos have appeared in Birding and Bird Watcher's Digest, at, and in the Handbook of the Birds of the World. He has guided groups across the United States and Asia. A musician, he has had several Grammy and Academy Award winners as clients, and was director of technology at Roland Corporation.

Scott Whittle lives in Cape May, New Jersey, and has twenty years of experience as a professional photographer and educator. He holds an MFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York, is a fellow of the MacDowell Colony, and is a New York State Big Year record holder.

Field / Identification Guide SPECIAL OFFER
By: Tom Stephenson(Author), Scott Whittle(Author), Catherine Hamilton(Illustrator)
560 pages, 1000+ colour photos, 50 colour distribution maps
Media reviews

"[...] The authors have compiled photos of every plumage imaginable, but what makes the book stand out is the attention to the process of identification, not just the bare facts. Moreover, the book devotes almost as much space to guiding the reader through the recognition of vocalisations, both songs and calls (including nocturnal flight calls). The publishers claim that the guide contains an entirely new system of vocalisation analysis and it is hard to argue with this. [...]"
- Andy Musgrove, BTO book reviews

"This is a book that every serious birder should own. There. Now that I’ve stated my conclusion, let me tell you why. [...] As the birders gaze intently and the warblers flit quickly, the most commonly heard human vocalization is “What is that?” – usually accompanied by an extended finger indicating a small bunch of offending feathers. Now, the answer to that question will come more quickly and more easily, thanks to this single book that gathers our collective knowledge, organizes it for ready access by beginners and experts alike, and synthesizes the information for more effective learning and retention. [...]"
- Edward H. (Jed) Burtt, Jr.,, 25-09-2013

"[...] The Warbler Guide is filled with a crazy amount of identification information and will be useful to all birders, regardless of skill level. Beginners will love the photos of warblers from all angles and the comparison species. More advanced birders can dive into the sonograms in an attempt to make warbler songs “stick” for them. And birders with big league aspirations can study the call notes and warblers in flight to prepare for Cape May’s legendary morning flights. I consider this the best identification guide to North American warblers."
– Grant McCreary (16-08-2013), read the full review at The Birder's Library

"The Warbler Guide is a fine book crammed with photographs, tips, expert advice, innovation and information designed to help identify a unique and beautiful set of birds."
– Phil Slade, Another Bird Blog

"Fantastic and, yes, ground-breaking [...] There will be no birder north of the Rio Grande who would turn down this book. There will be few who intend to visit North America that would not want to spend time familiarising themselves with the Wood Warblers, and there is no better way for them than to open these pages and get lost in their cornucopia of detail [...] Everything from sonograms to seasonal variations, confusion species to aging and sexing and with pretty detailed distribution maps as well. The term 'tour de force' sits well upon its wide shoulders."
– Fatbirder

"The Warbler Bible has come forth! This is easily the most comprehensive and fantastic warbler specific guide covering North American Warblers. I am amazed and impressed with each of its features [...] [A] must-have book."
– Robert Mortensen, Birding is Fun

"A warbler feast for the eyes, the answer to the prayers of every birder who has seen a glimpse of yellow, black, and white and said, 'If only that leaf wasn't in the way, I'd know that warbler's name.' [...] The Warbler Guide, by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, is not just another bird identification book [...] The authors have thought long and hard about what makes an identification guide work and then approached it their own way. The auditory descriptions of bird song and chips, based on scientific analysis rather than a subjective translation of sound, present a very different approach to identifying birds by ear. The abundance of photographs, the plethora of charts and finding guides, all printed in brilliant color on lovely paper, the clarity of design, make this book a joy to look at and to use."
– Donna Schulman, 10,000 Birds

"Thoroughly detailed [...] I'll keep this guide close to me and make my warbler identification a lot more simple."
– H.J. Ruiz, Avian 101

"The Warbler Guide is a must-have book for every birder. It is comprehensive, easy-to-use, and absolutely gorgeous."
– Eddie Callaway,

"Stupendous [...] Each of the 56 species accounts contain at least a dozen photographs, emphasizing various plumage variations – in all, over 1000 stunning color photos grace the book [...] One of the unique features of this book is that many of these photos are taken from below, which is how you really see warblers in the field [...] This relatively inexpensive book will aid birders of all abilities in identifying the warblers of America."
– Dan Tallman's Bird Blog

"The Warbler Guide is Music to My Eyes! [...] By the coming fall migration The Warbler Guide 'will' be considered the ultimate, must-have guide for any birder serious about identifying the 'butterflies of the avian world."
– Jerry Jourdan, Jerry's Birding/Digiscoping Blog

"There's never been an ID guide quite like this one. It's as if the publisher told the authors to produce a book on warbler identification that includes everything a birder might ever need. But don't be misled by my enthusiasm for The Warbler Guide. It will not make identifying warblers easy, it just makes it possible. It's still up to every birder to find, see and hear the birds before they turn to this remarkable ID guide."
– Scott Shalaway, Exponent Telegram

"Extraordinary [...] Grab a copy of this guide in time to help with those confusing fall warblers."
– Herb Wilson, Portland Press Herald

"This is a beautiful book, chock full of pictures. The best part is that many of the pictures are what we usually see when we see a warbler – from underneath or in flight [...] An excellent work."
– Penny Miller, A Charm of Finches

"When I personally dove into Warbler identification (the species that helped bring me to birding in the first place! Could those colorful birds really be in my backyard in Central New Jersey?!) I pieced together multiple guides that had information on undertail covert colors and tail patterns, as well as song detail and plumage specification. I had to use multiple sources then for what this guide accomplishes itself. That, to be honest, is putting it mildly [...] I obviously recommend this guide about as highly as I could and I look forward to utilizing it in my future birding adventures!"
– Dan Murray, Birding in New Jersey

"This is one of the most remarkable books about bird identification that I've seen in recent years [...] At last, a field guide that gives bird sounds the attention they deserve! [...] Groundbreaking [...] The visuals in this book are tremendous. The quantity and quality of the photographs outstrips anything I've seen in a field guide [...] Maybe the best part is the comparison pages, most of which are called 'finder guides'. You want all the warbler heads on one plate? All the undertails? All the side views? All the song spectrograms? All the flight shots? This book's got comparison plates for all of these and more. These pages alone are worth the cover price [...] This book is a must-have for serious birders. Beginning and intermediate birders should also check it out, and not be too discouraged by the sheer volume of information."
– Nathan Pieplow, Earbirding

"Once you own this book you will never need another reference on the North American wood warblers [...] Here the whole spectrum of our warblers is on display and wisely compared and contrasted in ways that will make field identification less of a trial for beginners or those seeing a warbler in new territory. In May I saw over 30 species in two weeks at Magee Marsh, Ohio. This book would have certainly helped me sort out what I was seeing, and what I probably missed."
– Harry Fuller, Towhee Blog

"Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle have covered everything you would ever need to identify any North American warbler from visual clues to songs and calls, and placed in a very easy to work with format."
– David Lewis, Birds from Behind blog

"Warblers are notorious for giving the observer fleeting and partial views. Field guides on the shelf today, regardless of the number of images offered, ultimately give you one option: extrapolate species from the fragments of information available. Stephenson and Whittle, using photos taken by dozens of photographers, offer you much better ID odds. They accompany the photos with clearly written descriptive text that focuses point-by-point on the major identification marks. Photos of and text describing similar species offer comparison assistance should confusion arise."
– Jim Williams, Wingnut blog, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"If you're a warbler aficionado, this is, quite simply, the best 36 bucks you'll ever invest. Stephenson and Whittle have produced a visually and aurally spectacular book – the first, and, just maybe, the last word on these intoxicating birds, at least for the foreseeable future. If previous guides get you into college, this one will take you all the way through graduate school. The Warbler Guide is your passport to a birding PhD."
– Bruce Fellman, Southern Rhode Island Newspapers, A Naturalist's Journal

"While I've been known to exaggerate for the sake of emphasis, I will swear under oath that my jaw literally dropped when I opened this book."
– Kirby Adams, National Parks Traveler Magazine

"My two hour old analysis of this guide is simple. Oh my gosh, get your hands on a copy! I'm a cynic and not easily impressed – this book has blown me away."
– Chuck & Jaye Otte KS Birdlist

"A book so good I'm almost at a loss for words (tough thing for a writer [...] ) The explanations [on vocalizations] are the best I've ever come across; about the visual aspects, what you offer the acolyte and expert alike is so visually rich as to make any remarks superfluous. Just get the book, I'd tell my readers, and be dazzled. And well-schooled."
– Bruce Fellman, author of the syndicated The Naturalist's Journal

"The greatest book ever invented [...] Ever [...] Really!"
BirdButtz Blogspot

"Ok, there are bird guides and there are bird guides, but you have never seen anything like The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, published by Princeton University Press!"
– Birder's

"The Warbler Guide arrived the other day and it is amazing! Such a complete compendium! [A]nd yet not daunting to someone just starting to love the 'jewels of the bird world' and getting past the 'all I can see is their bellies because they're up in the treetops!' [...] I can't wait to introduce it to my Illinois Audubon chapter members!"
– Darlene Fiske

"Wow! [...] Understanding that many warblers are only seen during migration, they are quite small, and tend to inhabit the top of the tree canopy makes them a challenge for every birder from novice to the advanced. Even the experts need a reference source to confirm what they think they've seen – and this guide is it. The visual cues, song, flight patterns, even regional variations of different species are discussed in intricate detail and shown in every possible angle they might be seen in the field through more than 1,000 clear color photos."
Birding Business Magazine

"Just how much guide is necessary for 56 species? That's the question that crossed my mind when this 560-page publication on Nearctic wood-warblers arrived on my desk. The mathematicians will quickly work out that's a whopping 10 pages-per-species average and, to be honest, I wondered whether I would be wading through a very dry guide. Astonishingly, there are over 1,000 images – nearly 20 per species – tossed into the mix! Was this a species guide gone mad? Having now spent a couple of weeks picking up the considerable weight of The Warbler Guide and probing Prothonotary-like through its pages, I'm finally ready to reveal whether it lives up to its back-page billing of 'ground-breaking'. finder' image-based guides thoughtfully group faces, side views, under views and songs based on pitch and number of song sections. [...] So is it ground-breaking? In parts, a guide by authors that understand that field views aren't always textbook, and aim to provide a guide that is still incredibly usable for those situations, is nuanced enough to lay claim to that description. There are many great images, only slightly let down by some of them being frustratingly small, supported by useful field identification notes. The Warbler Guide has enough material to provide sound aficionados with a couple of winters' worth of dark nights of aural stimulation. Essential reading if you're based in the US, worth a punt if you plan on visiting regularly but perhaps a bit heavy on the baggage allowance if you only plan on doing the States once."

- Alan Tilmouth, 26-07-2013,

"This innovative guide brings together the North American Parulidae warblers in an entirely novel format and presents a refreshing approach to their identification. [...] The only thing missing from this guide are the warblers themselves. Once you’ve picked up and browsed this book, you will be hooked. So be warned, this book may be a bargain, but the consequences come with a hefty price tag."

- Peter Kennerley,, 09-11-2013

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